Saturday, November 25, 2006
NEW BOOK: The Detroit Masonic Center
I just received a copy of Brother Alex Lundberg and Greg Kowalski's new book, Detroit's Masonic Temple. I can't recommend this little volume strongly enough.
Eighty years ago, the Freemasons of Detroit had a vision. They dreamed big and they built bigger, erecting the largest Masonic building in the world. Today, the Masons of Detroit seem to have lost their vision, or at least their ability to afford it. The Shriners and the Scottish Rite have both fled to the suburbs, and this magnificent building is in serious danger. A few individual lodges survive there, and it's huge and lavish auditorium remains a popular venue for out of town shows. Many of the beautiful ceremonial rooms are popular for weddings as well, but the Masons are fighting a losing battle.
They aren't alone - there's no getting around the fact that the Center is in a ghetto, a neighborhood abandoned by development and businesses. Thankfully, the authors of this little volume have captured it on film before it is gone forever. The sheer scope of this 1000+ room building is incredible, and they have packed an enormous amount of history and detail into a brief telling of its glorious past.
If you are a Mason, it is worth trying to visit the Detroit Masonic Center soon. Unless a developer with as much vision as the Freemasons who first built it come to its rescue, it is in serious danger.
The preservation of our Masonic heritage and the magnificent Temples we once constructed is a subject near and dear to my heart, as I have written about on other occasions. As I said then, these are not white elephants, my brothers. These are our Temples, our heritage. They are priceless, irreplaceable treasures. And we throw them away now like they don't matter, like they are not worth fighting for. We are murdering our own posterity, as if we don't believe in ourselves and in our fraternity anymore.
The men who built these Temples only wanted us to do one thing: treat them with respect. Maintain them. Paint the walls every once in a while. Keep the light bulbs changed. Replace a carpet when it gets worn out. Reupholster a chair when it becomes torn or better yet, replace it. No one is asking us to build new Temples. The least we can do is protect them until a new generation comes along that cherishes them as our grandfathers did. But as every year ticks by and one more Temple goes away, we will never get them back.
And we certainly won't ever have the vision - or the guts - to build another.